MOSCOW, Idaho — Chickpeas are on a roll in the U.S. with acres, demand and pricing all continuing to increase at the same time.
U.S. acres of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, totaled 603,000 this year, up 86 percent from 325,000 last year, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“Chickpeas are in the zone right now,” said Tim McGreevy, executive director of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, which is based in Moscow.
Chickpea acreage in the U.S. has increased three-fold in the past five years, he said.
McGreevy said large chickpeas are going for about 40 cents a pound right now, after starting the year at 35 cents a pound, with most of the increase occurring since this year’s harvest wrapped up.
Small chickpeas are selling for 26-30 cents a pound, up from 24-25 cents before harvest, he said.
“Chickpeas continue to expand year after year, with strong pricing as well,” McGreevy said. “It’s just been a great run for chickpeas and I think there’s room left.”
Almost half of the nation’s chickpea crop is grown in Washington and Idaho.
Chickpea acreage in Washington has increased from 75,000 in 2015 to 108,000 last year and 175,000 this year. In Idaho, chickpea acreage has expanded from 70,000 in 2015 to 92,000 in 2016 and 118,000 this year.
“Things are the best they’ve ever been for chickpeas,” said Todd Scholz, vice president of research for the council. “The demand for chickpeas remains strong and prices are going up. We’re hoping the trend continues, and it looks like it is.”
In fact, demand for all pulse crops, which include dry peas and lentils, is strong right now, he said.
Scholz believes recent interest in and rising demand for all pulse crops is due in part to increased awareness of their health and nutritional benefits that occurred during last year’s United Nations International Year of Pulses marketing campaigns.
Other industry leaders agree.
“Worldwide demand for (pulses) is real strong, particularly after the 2016 campaign,” said Dirk Hammond, administrative services manager for George F. Brocke and Sons, which processes pulse crops in Kendrick, Idaho. “I think that helped drive demand of peas, lentils and garbs.”
Scholz said the U.S. sold more pulse products internationally and domestically last year than ever before.
“Pulses are trending,” he said. “We are definitely on the wave of something.”
Acreage for other pulse crops in Idaho and Washington was down this year but that was only because chickpeas are so strong right now, said Pat Smith, who grows pulse crops in Troy, Idaho.
“In order for garbanzo acres to go up, something else has to go down,” he said.